Ions, Ozone, Fuzzy Tongues and You (or me)

OK, I’d had a bit of an “issue” with my sense of sweet fading for a bit. Added some mold suppressant to kill off the yeast that might be there, and all was somewhat better.

Unstated at the time was that I was having a few other “low immunity” cues. A cat scratch that was being slow to heal instead of my usual “immediate” response. Some “foot fungus” trying to get a toe hold ;-) And, a general lack of allergic response. For me, that’s an odd thing. I usually react to something or other every day or two, even if only long enough to escape from the smokers plume or the perfume trail…

Suspicions landed fairly quickly on “perhaps environmental”.

This weekend, I’m in a hotel.

Had a “sneeze fit” coming out of WalMart on day two…

Felt a fairly profound fatugue (that I often get when my immune system wakes up and says “WTF!?” and gets active, but also exacerbated by my cold turkey coffee withdrawal of last week) and have mostly slept the last 2 days. (About 8 waking hours each).

The results:

First day the corners of the mouth got a bit ‘crusty’ and dry. What usually happens when something is healing. Second day, all is fine.

Sweet is presently tasting VERY sweet ;-)

I’m at Starbucks sucking down a Mocha or two (they make a White Chocolate Mocha that I didn’t know about, but the barista made it “by mistake”, and I decided to try a “taste off”. NOW I’m in real trouble, I like both the dark and the white chocolate mochas….). No mouth ‘rashy’ look to the corners of the mouth.

The “Cat scratch” is reacting how I would normally expect. More rapid healing, itching, some deep redness to the margins.

So, Why?

As long time readers will know, one of my favorite mantras is:

“Why? Don’t ask why, down that path lies insanity and ruin. -E.M.Smith”

So, exploring why…

What changed? A lot.

Food a little bit (but I was largely cooking my own stuff and eat at the same restaurants in both cases). Likely not food.

Water a tiny bit. Mostly still using bottled water to drink and Orlando area tap water. Likely not water.

Things like background radiation and air pollution are most likely about the same. I’ve not moved that far and both places are about the same age and construction.

Animals? Possibly. My host has a cat and a ferret. I’m slightly allergic to cats (but we had one for about 20 years and as long as I didn’t let him rub my face too much, I’d not sneeze. Besides, he “keyed up” my immune response, not dampened it. The Ferret has a bit of skunky odor (they are related) but that’s about it. Still, could be some exotic reaction or some bug in the ferret poo that thought I was a good host… but why would it end when I left if it was a bug? They usually take 5 to 7 days to resolve, not one or two.

No, suspicion lands mostly onto the thing I did to FIX the cat dander and ferret smell.

The room had an “air purifier” in it ( I’m not sure if it is an “Ionic Breeze” but it is similar). It’s a big one, and looks like it is sized to do a whole house. This is a small room. It has a turbo setting of some sort too. Oh, and it smells vaguely of ozone when in use…

I’d worked on contract at Sharper Image for about 4 months once, and these things were everywhere. I’d felt a bit “keyed up” some times and a bit “run down” others as I adapted to the space, but always felt a bit “off”. I was glad when the contract ended… But even there my exposure was only for a couple of hours at a time, and I took a long lunch outdoors to avoid them mid-day. I’d only figured I’d give it a shot now as I was asleep most of the time so “didn’t notice”… That, and it DID give the air a clean active smell. (like a mix of ozone and faint ocean chlorine smells).

So, perhaps deciding that if I could sleep through it, it was OK, was a mistake…

A Bit On Ozone

So, while sucking on Mocha, I decided to try some searches on Ozone. After a bit of “tuning”, I got this page:

A review of the literature reveals that ozone (O3) exposure can either suppress or enhance immune responsiveness. These disparate effects elicited by O3 exposure depend, in large part, on the experimental design used, the immune parameters examined as well as the animal species studied. Despite the apparent contradictions, a general pattern of response to O3 exposure can be recognized. Most studies indicate that continuous O3 exposure leads to an early (days 0-3) impairment of immune responsiveness followed, with continued exposures, by a form of adaptation to O3 that results in a re-establishment of the immune response. The effects of O3 exposure on the response to antigenic stimulation also depend on the time at which O3 exposure occurred. Whereas O3 exposure prior to immunization is without effect on the response to antigen, O3 exposure subsequent to immunization suppresses the response to antigen. Although most studies have focused on immune responses in the lung, numerous investigators have provided functional and anatomical evidence to support the hypothesis that O3 exposure can have profound effects on systemic immunity.

(As it’s just the abstract, I’m quoting the whole thing.)

Most interesting to me (other than the fact that it makes Ozone a likely “smoking gun”) is that fact that the effect is not present on NEW exposures to antigenic stimulation. It lets all the OLD bugs out of immunity jail. One can only wonder how…

Also of note is that it leaves open the question of how long a ‘respite’ is needed for a “continuous exposure” to be reset to the “new exposure, suppress immunity” point. Would 8 to 10 hours “on” and / or 10 to 12 hours “off” (with the rest variable) cause a constant state of “suppression”? Always keeping the adaptive response off balance?

OK, I can see several ways to use this.

IFF you have a long duration immunity moderated disease, the use of added ozone MIGHT help mitigate it a bit (as you are ‘already immunized’ even with auto immunity diseases). I could see folks with allergies, arthritis, even Lupus and maybe vitiligo getting some potential relief from an air ionizer that incidentally made some ozone. (At the risk of a ‘flare up’ of some OTHER old exposure such as yeast).

It would also seem that exposure (especially for 10 to 12 hours at a time in a very small room with a very large ionizer while sleeping) can cause a variety of immune suppression ‘side effects’, such as those same ‘flare ups’ of things like yeast…

Decisions, decisions…

In Conclusion

So I’ll be “experimenting” a bit more with this in a few days. I’m in the hotel for a while, then return to the ‘guest room’ toward next weekend. I can then modulate the ionizer (instead of leaving it on 100% of the time) and see what happens. It is always possible that something else about the change was “the issue” or that things just resolved on their own, so “Guinea Pigs R Us” ;-)

Until then, I’m having a bit of a slow day as I “heal” some things that were building up and “suddenly” got noticed by the immune system and I’m enjoying a bit of time to “just be me”, instead of being “on stage” from 5:30 AM wake up call to final ‘head to bed’. Even if it is just commuting with a friend, it takes energy, being more “up”, to be engaged and conversing than it does to be “in the zone” and with the brain able to ‘free run process / muse’…

It is possible that simply that “Hit the go juice button at 5:30 AM and hold it” was the “drain” on the system. When running hard the immune system gets second place in the energy food chain, so often lags in performance. (Though I’ve done this before for longer without the “fuzzy tongue” effect… so I think “something is different this time” ;-)

At any rate, I’m going to be playing with the parameters for a bit as I find out what’s a “distractor”, what’s a “important but not causal” and what is a “root cause” parameter. Can’t set the knobs right if you don’t know, for CERTAIN, what they do… (A lesson I’d love for politicians to learn about the economy. And, oh by the way, even Economists don’t know what all the knobs do or how they interact outside of limited ranges…)

Until then, two things:

1) If you have such a device, you too can play with it and see what happens.

2) The link also includes a pointer to the full article, for folks wanting to read more:

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (3.2M), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References

With that, I’m off to look at some fancy rims for my car… I’m feeling much more ambitious today ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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19 Responses to Ions, Ozone, Fuzzy Tongues and You (or me)

  1. Chuckles says:

    Very different vegetation, bugs, bacteria etc to your ‘default calibration’ from CA?

    I don’t suffer from allergies at all normally, but the sinuses get whacked hard if I go anywhere near a wheat farming area during growing/harvesting. Probably because as a child and generally, I’ve never lived anywhere near a wheat belt.

  2. R. Shearer says:

    My immune system has evolved quite a bit over the years. In general, my allergies are not as bad and I no longer suffer from asthma. Several years ago I would occassionally have mild asthma attacks which were exacerbated by accute exposure to ozone (probably high ppm levels).

    Now, I occassionally am exposed to CO at low ppm levels and I suspect that it is actually beneficial for suppressing allergic responses at these low levels.

    The effects and biological roles of small molecules, such as CO, NO, H2S are very interesting.

  3. A co-worker had a part time business selling coffee online, and he was extraordinarily adept at discerning subtleties of flavor from the 80 or so varieties of beans he kept in bins in his home-office storage area.

    Then he lost his sense of smell.

    The trouble, he told me later, was tracked to the Glade plug-in air fresheners that his wife had started using. They were removed, and over a few months he came to his scentses.

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  4. Tom Bakewell says:

    Please don’t forget your are in an almost 100% AC environment in Fla. So mold spores etc in the AC ductwork can really do a number on you, as I learned when I moved to Houston from AZ way so long ago. I suspect the AC filters are better now, but they are not catching everything. And of course the pollens etc are strange as well, so that can also help ramp things up a bit for your immune system.

    When I was small we moved from high arid desert in E NV to Luzon. Getting acclimated to all of that lush organic mist took a while…

    Along with the rest of your grateful audience I sure do enjoy your posts.

    Tom Bakewell

  5. I think you are onto something that may be relevant to my situation. I live about 40 minutes from your current location (I would consider it an honor to meet you) and suffer from sore eyes/sneezing when fronts are nearby. Two clinics have independently failed to find any sensitivity to the usual suspects (trees, grass, ragweed etc.). The problem can occur at any time of the year.

    I was thinking that fronts and thunderstorms go together and that my sensitivity could be related to oxides of nitrogen formed as a result of lightning flashes. Maybe it is ozone rather than NOx. While I associate ozone with UV radiation, lightning probably contributes to ozone production especially near ground level.

    My symptoms diminish sharply when I am indoors and that could be due to the fact that the air conditioner is running 24/7 from May through October. Active chemicals like will react with the gunk that accumulates inside my ductwork thus reducing the ozone concentration.

    Next question: How could one test this hypothesis?

  6. R. Shearer says:

    Galloping: a cheap ozone sensor will run a few hundred $. There are some badges in the following link that seem reasonably priced.

  7. Pascvaks says:

    The younger, and older, one is the more suseptable they are to “environmental influences”. The more one travels the more “acclimatized” one becomes to a vast array of flora and fauna and chemicals in these various environments. The less one travels, the more suseptable they are when they do. I doubt this is news to anyone, but what the hay.

    (The first time I heard this the number of years was 7, I think) Every 7 years your body changes so completely that we technically have a brand new body. Old cells give way to new. DNA drops a whatyamacallit at the end of it’s strand and things change, and rarely for the better after the first three or four transformations. Starting with change #3 or #4 it’s all down hill.

    You’re probably right about the Ozone. And, I’m sure there’s a great reason why the Ozone stuff that does any good is way high in the sky away from us fragile little folks too.

    FWIW when I was 22 I got a job in Atlantic City as a Desk Clerk for the summer; before I headed out on my own to save the world, I needed have a little fun. I had a room that must have had a few hundred zillion fungi, viruses, and bacteria or every make and model. Being young and a brand new college grad, I thought I was immune and too smart to be hurt by these little guys. I was going to clean it up, really. But at my speed. Anyway, long story short, they zapped me! A smart Philly boy zapped by Atlantic City Bugs! Who would have thunk it?

    PS: I blame them flora and fauna for nearly everything bad that’s ever happened to me in the past 40+ years, and everything that ever will. I ain’t been back since, either;-)

  8. Pascvaks,

    What you say is weird but it matches my personal experience. After living in the UK for 30 years I became allergic to British grass but on moving to the USA the allergy went away and I had no problems for 10 years until my new allergy showed up.

    I plan to buy an ozone detector as you suggest. Back in the days when I suffered from grass allergy in the UK (aka “Hay Fever”) the “Pollen Counts” were broadcast on the radio and my symptoms tracked with high counts. Maybe I will find something similar with ozone concentrations. If that does not work out maybe I will try NOx monitors.

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    I’m back in the guest room. The device is an “Ionic Breeze” and one of the biggest ones. (I’ve shut it off…)

    I’ve been to Florida (and Texas and…) before an not had an issue, so I was looking for “what’s different now” as part of the look-see. Yes, it could be just age or just the particulars in bloom now. But I’m pretty well in touch with those things from other times and places. This was significantly “odd” compared to normal.

    At any rate, the testing will continue for a few weeks (months?).


    I’m available on weekends (or weekdays if you run down to Orlando… lunch or after work). On weekends I’m often looking for some interesting place to see, so I’d be quite happy to run up your way. I’m probably settled enough, now to make it reasonable to add some social time. I’m also more likely going to like the taste of any ‘dinner out’ now ;-)

    IIRC, Ozone is fairly easily filtered. You could just try a bed of reducing agent and see what happens… (I’d likely start with something like a layer of sugar. Relatively benign and I’m pretty sure ozone will be trapped by it. A bit of google time would likely help…)

    So, an ozone meter and an ozone absorber give you a metric and a control. After that it ought to just be ‘enough trials’ and confirmation…

    You could also just borrow an “Ionic Breeze” and see what happens ;-)

  10. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M. re “foot fungus” trying to get a toe hold ”

    Vicks Vaporub applied twice a day for a few weeks will get rid of foot fungus. Applied for a couple of months around and under toenails it will even get rid of toenail fungus.

  11. E.M.
    A trip to Orlando at the weekend would be fine. Lunch or dinner on me.

    Can we discuss the details off line? Here is my contact information:

  12. Verity Jones says:

    About 10 years ago I suddenly realised that I often had really bad “allergic rhinitis” the day after a party or event where I’d, er, overindulged in alcohol. Typically it got better as the day went on and I rehydrated. Over the years I’ve realised that chronic dehydration sets off my allergies and immune system generally. I don’t have to be very dehydrated, even a little ‘underhydrated’ for a long time will do it, particularly in combination with being short slept. When I’m busy I often don’t notice thirst as much as i would notice hunger. Travelling often sets things off.

  13. P.G. Sharrow says:

    @ Verity; thank you for that observation! I often awake with that “allergic rhinitis” problem. So bad I have to get up to breathe. Blamed it on too friendly cats. ( contributing factor) Being dehydrated in the morning is always a problem for me. After consuming a glass of water and half a pot of coffee the rhinitis goes away. I will try to drink more water during the night. pg

  14. E.M.Smith says:


    Might want to try consuming that water during the day instead; I find it hard to drink while sleeping ;-)


    I’ve noticed some dehydration issues in this new hotter climate, so maybe I’ll up my water intake, too, just as a cross check on other possibles…

  15. Brian H says:

    On the subject of general remedies and useful substances, acquire some glycerin and play around (food grade is best, but USP grade will do). Just about any skin condition responds, even psoriasis. Healing accelerated, scarring suppressed. As a result of another property (ultra-hygroscopic), it is excellent for oral hygiene: a sip/swish kills all mouth bacteria; make sure to hit the back of the tongue, and even death-breath vanishes instantly. Excellent for brushing teeth; gets right down to the roots and eliminates gingivitis, etc.
    A dab inside the nostrils will clear the sinuses over about ¼ hr.
    For the gals, a 25% solution in water as a daily facial will remove wrinkles and sags over time, and keep them away.

    If you’re diabetic, use as a sweetener (60% rating). Doesn’t affect blood sugar or insulin.

    Topical or oral for joint pain. (Oral, a tbsp. or two/day per 100 lbs. body weight).

    De-lousing: apply, wait a minute, rinse. (Dehydration, again.)

    Burns, bites, etc. respond quickly.


  16. E.M.Smith says:


    I’ve been a bit swamped with a bunch of things, but I will contact soon…

  17. adolfogiurfa says:

    Really funny (as we all have some share on this). But…A review of the literature reveals that ozone (O3) exposure can either suppress or enhance immune responsiveness , that´s the same as “charges in the air”….gotto ask the EU guys :-)

  18. adolfogiurfa says:

    BTW: Get some protons (hydrogen nucleii) to react with ozone, you will get O2 plus Water (humidity)

  19. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Brian H
    On the subject of general remedies and useful substances, acquire some glycerin

    Glyceryn, Glycerol (propanotriol), it is an reductant alcohol, and as such, a proton donor, like another great reductant: fructose/ levulose, C6H12O6.
    Fungii share with us, humans, a singular characteristic: They breathe oxygen and a reductant reacts with oxygen forming water….
    So you can try putting some marmelade on your feet :-)
    All “fossil fuels”, being hydrocarbons, have the same effect.

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